Friday, November 17, 2006

On Joyriders

For all the hand-wringing that goes on in the media about death on the roads, it’s unlikely that people realise just how serious the problem is. A court case in this morning’s Irish Independent gives a rather distressing illustration of just why the problem is as bad as it is, and exactly how far it is we are from a resolution. Very, very far indeed.

The facts are these. Aengus Ó Snodaigh, a Sinn Féin TD but also a citizen as you or I, was at an ice-cream van investing in ice-cream on March 6th last year when one Mark Moran, 23 years old, drove along and started doing wheel-spins on the public road. As one does.

Mr Ó Snodaigh went over to Mr Moran to remonstrate, as doing wheel-spins in a residential area is dangerous. This is not as one does, for fear that one will be treated as Mr Ó Snodaigh was. Mr Moran told Mr Ó Snodaigh to “f*** off, you and your IRA mates, I’m not afraid of you.” Mr Moran then got out of the car and headbutted Mr Ó Snodaigh. The Guards appeared, and Mr Moran evacuated the scene con brio.

The Guards gave chase, and when they caught up with Mr Moran, Mr Moran gave his brother’s name. Sound of him.

While he was doing his wheel-spinning, Mr Moran was under a five year ban for uninsured driving. Mr Moran has managed to amass, at the tender age of 23, 32 previous convictions, mostly for driving related offences, including a three month stretch in the slammer last year for uninsured driving. And to put the tin hat on the story, Mr Moran told the court that not only was he driving while banned from the roads, he also had a few drinks “for Mother’s Day.”

To recap: Mr Moran was up before the court for driving without insurance, driving while banned from the road, driving with drink taken, and assault (sticking the nut on Mr Ó Snodaigh). And that’s just today’s racecard – Mr Moran has thirty-two previous convictions at the age of 23. Thirty-two. How did he fare before the court? To quote the Indo, “Judge Ann Ryan found him [Moran] guilty and said he must realise, as the father of a young child, the danger his driving was posing to children in the area. She remanded him on bail to January 26 to see if he is suitable for 240 hours community service.”

The Irish Times report of the case tells us that Jude Ryan added that “she was prepared ‘to give him a chance to give something back to society.’” Now. What exactly do you think are the chances of that happening? God help us all.

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